Watts Wilkinson

The Life And Ministry Of Watts Wilkinson

Christ, The Alpha And Omega, A Biographical Sketch:

“For as the strong built vessel safely rides 

Midst driving tempests and the rolling tides,

Nor fears the danger—steady course doth keep 

While crazy barks are foundered in the deep— 

Enters the haven, and exulting finds

Freedom from billows, rocks, and driving winds; 

So sails the pilgrim o’er life’s boist’rous sea

With Christ his pilot, he’s from danger free. 

From him he finds a timely sure relief

In storms of error, and in floods of grief—

In Him who guides the tempest feels secure,

And doth the perils of the way endure— 

While those, who error’s baneful portion drink,

Are left in floods of dark despair to sink— 

He makes the port in safety, and is blest

With sweet enjoyment of eternal rest.”

Biography is a mine unfathomable in its depth and inexhaustible in its treasures. Yet all is not precious ore that is found therein, but occasionally we meet with an inestimable gem amidst the alloy, which repay us well for all the toil we might have endured, in endeavouring to obtain possession of the same, nor can it be otherwise while Biography is claimed as the legitimate child of all who feel disposed to own it, and who consider themselves at liberty to exhibit upon its base what they in many instances exclusively think worthy of admiration, and which suits the vitiated taste of those readers who are satisfied with a statement of what the characters ought to be, rather than what the characters really were. Thus Biography instead of being that lucid and radiant display of genuineness—that would throw a lustre over its face is too often rendered an opaque and dark body from the partiality of one who seeks his gain by the act of misrepresentation and who foists upon the public a character the very reverse of what it should be, by which means the original design of Biography is diverted from its channel, and from too much colour being thrown into the Portrait; the effect is lost, and we retire with disgust from the deception, with the language of the inimitable Cowper.

“Oh, fond attempt to give a deathless lot 

To names ignoble, born to be forgot!

In vain, recorded in historic page,

They court the notice of a future age; 

Those twinkling tiny lustres of the land

Drop one by one from Fame’s neglected hand; Lethaenan gulfs receive them as they fall,

And dark oblivion soon absorbs them all.

So when a child, as playful children are,

Hast burnt to tinder a stale last year’s news,

The flames extinct, he views the raving fire— 

There goes my lady, and there goes the squire, 

There goes the parson, O illustrious spark!

And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk!”

While resource is had to the perishable marble to hand down to future generations the valourous deeds of the Warrior, the Statesman, the Philanthrophist, with others the world calls great; yet is it but a baseless fabric touched with the finger of decay and mouldering in the very moment of creation, yet shall it be found, that however apparently they might have appeared as overlooked and forgotten here, the righteous are the only characters that shall be had in everlasting remembrance, whose names are not written upon the perishable column—or in the corroding brass, but registered as “the excellent of the earth,” who grow as the herbs upon the mountain, neither sought after nor gathered by any but those who know their value, aud here it was amongst the few worthies that lived towards the close of the last and opening of the present centuries that the late venerable and beloved Watts Wilkinson was found, the removal of whom from the Church militant to the Church triumphant, has left a vacuum both felt and deplored by all who are led to prize the free grace Gospel of the blessed God, and the more so from the awful gloom which surround the British Ark with the threatening aspect of its speedy fall into the vortex of Romish superstition. “Howl ye fir trees for the cedars are fallen” as with him is become extinct that Phalanx which have been justly termed the Romaine School, and which were the brightest stars that has arisen in our National Hemisphere since the glorious days of the Reformation. From the unostentatious manner in which this venerable servant of the Lord “moved on the even tenor of his way,” extended as his valuable labours were, and might be said to have only closed with his life, his memoir will of necessity fall short of those things which can only be considered as the drapery of Biography, such as tracing his descent from a long list of progenitors, with common-place circumstances relating to birth and the after stages in life, which in general are found as intruders in this department of literature. Yet no pains will be spared in producing those testimonies to prove his Birth was “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:13. The date of his natural birth was in the year 1756, but as to its particular locality, nothing definite can be gathered, though in all probability it was in or near the metropolis; and his ancestors had been long numbered with the Non Cons, with whom it was intended the subject of our Memoir should remain. But he who ordereth all things after the council of his own will, had not so determined; and at a very early age we find him, the youthful Watts Wilkinson, with a strong predeliction in favor of Episcopacy, whose ranks, after the giving way of parental prejudice, and the full conviction of his own mind, he entered, nor did he ever desert them through a long and useful life, but was an ornament to our National establishment, which it would be well for thousands of her professed sons to imitate. It doth not appear that at any time he was desirous of worldly honour, or sought after its distinguished titles, so that he never received even from Alma Mater, a title beyond that of A. B. which was enough to give him authority to preach within her walls “The unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Under the all-wise direction of Him without whose will “a sparrow cannot fall unto the ground” the impetuous tide of nature was checked ere the torrent which sets in so strong in youth, had driven him into that vortex from which thousands in after life are never recovered, thus at a very early age we find him sitting at the feet of the truly excellent Henry Foster, at that time in all probability when his Ministry was confined to the more western part of the Metropolis, nor is it at all unlikely that from the great affection with which he frequently mentioned, that man of God, the late Mr. Jones, of St. Saviour’s, he had been favoured to hear him; and if not so his memory was endeared unto him through the means of others, these are minor things, the most essential is the great work of God, the Holy Ghost, in changing his heart, and given him to know himself as a lost sinner, and leading him to the refuge set before him in the Gospel, which great blessing beyond all doubt took place ere he had reached his twentieth year, at which age having surmounted the difficulties which lay in the way of his connection with the establishment, we find him Matriculate as a Student at Worcester College, Oxford; and having gone through the routine of a College life, wonderfully preserved from contamination, either in his religious sentiments or morals—he is ordained Deacon—and shortly after Priest; entering upon the office, he afterwards was so long and honourably engaged in—by preaching his first Sermon within the walls of the Church of St. Anns, Blackfriars, and St. Andrews, by the Wardrobe, which at that time was favoured with the Ministry of the truly spiritual William Romaine, and from that most eventful period, down to his last feeble efforts, in the little Church of St. Mary, Aldermary, and St. Thomas, the Apostle, on Lord’s day, September 6, 1840, it might be said of him in the language of the Poet—

“There stands the messenger of truth, there stands 

The legate of the skies; his theme divine,

His office sacred, his credentials clear:

By him the violated law speaks out

Its thunders, and by him, in strains as sweet 

As angels use, the gospel whispers peace:

He ’stablishes the strong, restores the weak, 

Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart:”

“And arm’d himself in panoply complete

Of heavenly temper, furnished with arms”

Bright as his own, and trains, by every rule

Of holy discipline, to glorious war,

The sacramental host of God’s elect.

Are all such teachers? Would to heaven they were.”


The decision of character and his unassuming manners soon drew him forth into public view, and not only was he favored with the friendship of the worthy Rector of Blackfriars, but his contemporaries of that day were found to vie with each other in giving countenance to their young charge, “and expounding unto him the way of God more perfectly,” nor did they labor in vain, as he was enabled to shew he had not taken upon himself an office uncalled, but “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward;” nor was he disappointed, for that which he was enabled to choose in his youth, was his strength and support down to old age.

It does not appear that Mr. Wilkinson preached any more than his introductory sermon, at this time, at Black-friars, as we find his title to the ministry was obtained through his appointment to the Curacy of Little Horwood, in the County of Bucks, which he did not long hold, as in the same or very early in the next year, he became Assistant to the Rev. Michael Marlow, the Chaplain of Askes, (commonly called the Haberdasher’s) Alms Houses, Hoxton, whose daughter he married about this time, and subsequently succeeded him in the Chaplaincy, and which he held for the long period of forty-five years; during which time, with the exception of a very few sabbaths, Mr. Wilkinson preached twice a day to large and attentive congregations. It is more than probable that this appointment of one so young as Mr. Wilkinson, arose from an influential connection, but that he filled it with satisfaction to the Company is evident, as they elected him to a second preferment which is in their gift, viz. the Tuesday Morning Lectureship of St. Bartholomew Exchange, commonly called the Golden Lectureship. From the kindness of the Rev. John Leming Turner, the present respectful Chaplain of the Institution (for which kindness the compiler here begs leave to return his thanks,) we have been furnished with a list of the Chaplains from its foundation, and from which list it is shewn that Mr. Wilkinson held the situation nearly one-third of the time since its foundation, there having been ten Chaplains appointed in about one hundred and forty-five years, the first appointment being made in 1695. Shortly after his first preferment, he was also appointed Afternoon Lecturer to the united Parishes of St. Mary, Aldermary, and St. Thomas the Apostle, the small Church belonging to which is situated in Watling-Street, in the centre of the City, and here he continued to labour until he closed them, as before stated; having looked forward with holy confidence for the appearance of him whom he loved, and whose service was to him a delight, and from whom he anticipated receiving a crown of glory, which should not fade away.

“Now safe arrived, the heavenly mariner. 

The boisterous storm, the hurricane of life,

All die away in one eternal calm;

With joy divine, full glowing in his breast,

He gains, he gains the port of everlasting rest.”

Beyond these Mr. Wilkinson never attained; nor did he seek after any other preferment, and thousands have borne witness to the faithful discharge of those duties by him; for it is well known that with the exception of a few occasional sermons, during his very long life, he was always found breaking the bread of eternal life to those committed to his care; and the following testimony was given of him thirty years ago, by a public writer of no mean title.

“Mr. Wilkinson, (says the writer,) ranks in the old school—the prophet’s school—the sound, deep, and scriptural school, he reminds us much of what Mr. Romaine was. He has much of the like eloquent colloquiality, impressive earnestness, and experimental edification. Scriptural experience is the prominent excellence of Mr. Wilkinson’s discourses;” and the same acute writer, after making his critique in his customary way, and which was in no way detrimental to the character of Mr. W. as a preacher, closes up his remarks in the following expressive language:—“Such is however the efficacy of his preaching, assisted by the solemnity of his appearance, that triumphing over casual impediments, he lays the axe to the root, convincing of sin, consoling the dejected, and establishing the believer; his hortatives are warm, and his applications strong: of the number of those therefore who have justly apprehended and fully expounded the sacred volume, he may look with holy trust to his Divine Master for his reward.”—Pulpit, by Onesimus, 1811.

“I venerate the man—whose heart is warm,

Whose hands are pure, whose actions and whose life

Coincident exhibit lucid proof

That he is honest in the sacred cause—

To such I render more then mere respect. 

Whose actions say that they respect themselves.”

A writer of a more recent date, and when Mr. Wilkinson was drawing towards the close of his useful life, thus speaks of him:—“If age has stamped on his face that impression of gravity, which it almost invariably makes on all who have exceeded the usual span of human existence, religion has no less visibly left on it those traces of serenity, with which it inspires all, who in reality feel its power and cherish its spirit. His very eye beams cheerfulness and composure of soul; none could gaze on his countenance and doubt for a moment that all is not tranquil and happy within. I have wondered sometimes, whether an Infidel could look on the Rev. Gentleman without being struck with the blessed effects of Christianity, as exemplified in old age; what would worlds be to a man of Mr. Wilkinson’s years, and I should add infirmities also? What but Christianity could sooth, and solace, and support his spirit?” He further observes, “There is indeed a singular sweetness in his sermons generally, they are largely impregnated with a high toned spirituality, he evidently declares to others what he himself has felt and does daily and hourly feel, of the workings of grace within him: all his discourses are full of the Christian’s privilege—the Christian’s duties, which he represents to be another word for privilege; the Christian’s consolations, aids, and prospects: no one could hear him for many minutes without being impressed with the conviction that he is habitually living on the truths which he preaches to others; out of the fullness of his heart his mouth speaketh. Nothing but the warmth and vigour of his piety—nothing but the former conviction of the truths and importance of the doctrines of the Gospel, Could induce a man of his age and physical frailties thus habitually to labour in the work of the ministry.—Metropolitan Pulpit, 1839.

“With Lamp well trimmed and burning bright, 

And loins begirt around;

In waiting posture long be stood,

To hear the welcome sound.”

To those who never enjoyed the animating sight of beholding the very attentive and always numerous auditory that attended, particularly the Tuesday Morning Lectures of Mr. Wilkinson, it is quite impossible that any force of language could adequately describe the animating scene, where, in the very centre of the bustling city, and where you could scarcely expect to meet a solitary individual who was not in the full pursuit of business in this arena of commerce, and where the congregated of all nations were assembled, amid the din and noise of anxious speculators; how great the contrast upon entering the venerable edifice, and seeing the withdrawn numbers with the stillness of expectation, watching for, and dwelling with delight upon, those important truths as they dropped from the lips of this favored servant of Jesus: nor was this the mere impulse of the moment, or a case of only occasional occurrence; for forty years was this hand of spiritual worshippers to be found thus engaged, and whose temporary abstractions from the world during this hallowed season, upon this long to be remembered spot, verified the words of our Lord, “Where the carcase is the eagles will be gathered together.”

“There long he stood with honour and applause, 

A faithful champion in his Master’s cause;

Thousands,—yea, tens of thousands,—blessed the Lord, 

Who raised him up to preach the sacred word.

See the vast crowds, attentive all around,

Hang on his lips, and catch the joyful sound;—

The dead are quicken’d, and the trembling soul 

Pointed to Jesus, flies and is made whole.”

“Nor was it merely he with gifts was fraught, 

His life adorned the gospel which he taught;

Grave and yet cheerful, modest, humble, mild, 

In sense a man, simplicity a child:

The hoary head, which God’s own word reveres, 

Silver’d with age, gave beauty to his years.”

In his attachment to the Church of England, Mr. Wilkinson was firm and unshaken, adhering closely to her articles and doctrine throughout the whole course of his Ministry. Yet there was nothing of that Bigotry which marks the High Churchman to be found in him, as a member of that body, which is without schism, he invariably did say, “Grace be with all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,” thus the majority of Mr. Wilkinson’s hearers were from the ranks of the Orthodox Dissenters, and the Tuesday Morning Service, would oft resemble and form a striking simile to the day of Pentecost, from the group of Christian Brethren who were not unfrequently gathered to the Church from all parts of the country, whose visit to the Metropolis was not considered complete, without hearing this venerable saint, while thus his labours might be said to be confined to London, yet was he generally known through­ out the Kingdom, and many who never saw his face in the flesh, rejoiced in him, “as a burning and shining light.” From the great length to which Mr. Wilkinson’s days were extended; it might be supposed that they would afford an ample supply for his Biographer—but living as he did solely in the bosom of his affectionate and beloved family—beyond which little is known except his pulpit ministrations, of which one has very justly observed, “His ministry in which he too ardently spent himself was remarkably blessed to a numerous circle. Being of rather retired habits and character, though his praises has long sounded among the Churches, yet as by principle he made his own his home, moving not from it, he was comparatively less known then deserved,” and while we can but regret the loss of much connected with so valuable a life, it fields a source of pleasure to know that his path was that of the just, which shineth more and more until the perfect day, it was not with him to court publicity—either by his preaching or any other means, which accounts for the non-appearance of scarcely any production from his pen—it was conjectured by some of his friends that he occasionally appeared in the pages of the Gospel Magazine, under the signature of Amicus, dated from Hoxton Square, and we find that his portrait was given in that work during the year, 1801, which did not seem to be what may be termed a good likeness.

It was the opinion of Mr. Wilkinson, with many other of his Brethren, that we were drawing near to those times when Popery should reign predominant in this kingdom, and upon no occasion did he more lift up his voice against the innovation—then in his Sermon upon the memorable occasion of preaching at the Church of St. Bartholomew for the last time, previous to its demolition, it was a season that will dwell long in the recollection of all who were present, he was that day engaged as he had been on former occasions—advocating the charity of the Ward Schools—which he did by enforcing it upon their attention, by some bold and nervous remarks upon the rapid increase, which during the last years Popery had made in this land, language which every Protestant would do well to observe, and more particularly those who have rendered so much assistance unto the Beast—in his return to power, whose children in all probability will be called to suffer from the intemperate zeal and unwarrantable conduct of their parents, an abstract from which Sermon we cannot refrain ourselves from given in this part of our Memoir.

“I do not mean to enter into the history of those Institutions, but another grand point to be remembered is, that the first design, the original purpose of these Schools, when they were established generally about 130 years ago, was to counteract the influence of Papists and Popery, that is the origin of these Parish and Ward Schools. Now if that was the first design, is this a time and period when attention to these Schools in this kingdom should be dropped. Was there ever a period (I will venture to say) since these Schools were first instituted, 130 years ago, when we had more to apprehend and dread from the overwhelming power of the Church of Rome; in its spreading itself on every side. It is astonishing that men can be so blind as they are to this, it is spreading itself in every direction. Some few years since there was not fifty Chapels throughout Great Britain, and now I believe there are more than six hundred. Now surely, this is a very powerful argument for the support of these Schools,—we talk of Martyrdom—we talk of flames and so on, but think what Popery is in its present ordinary operations and character. We might mention one thing to you only in its general working, which is lost sight of often, and this is the confessional—the confession in his box, where he sits to receive the confessions of the people,—sits to extort their confessions. I am informed (though I have not seen them, nor am I anxious to see them,) that the questions he is authorized to put to modest females are awful and horrid in the highest degree; and he is authorised to demand answers to these, and to inflict penalties other­ wise at his pleasure. It is a delicate thing to speak of, but it is surely one of the most distressing and awful features of Popery. It is a grand scheme in order to get at the knowledge of the proceedings, not only of individuals, but of their families and connections. And they are riding rampant in this kingdom, and so they are in Popish countries abroad, triumphing as though they had seized the prey, as though they grasped it, as though they had got this kingdom in their hands. They well know (what is the certain fact) that ever since its institutions have been so mercifully (and we trust strongly,) cemented by the blood of the blessed martyrs, this kingdom has been the grand bulwark against Popery, and I have this from one not very favourable to the Established Church in many points, that it has been the grand bulwark in Europe against Popery; they wish to get this down, and if they can get this down, then they know all will fall. Now your weapon is prayer; Oh! then pour out your hearts continually and perseveringly before him; if the Protestants of this land were inclined and disposed and animated to do this, we might entertain bright expectations notwithstanding the dark appearances that are pressing upon us. It is said that Mary, the Popish Queen of Scots, used to say, that she was more afraid of the prayers of John Knox, a famous Reformer of her day, than of any army of ten thousand men; she knew that prayers were mighty and prevailed, and if God intends to rescue this kingdom once more from the hands of this idolatrous Church, he will pour out his Spirit, as ‘a Spirit of grace and supplication,’ and lead them to intercede earnestly, that so dreadful a storm may never burst upon this land.” If we might draw any inference from the lethargic spirit which universally pervade all, and the apparent indifference shown to the signs of the times, we should argue the giving up of this our native land into the hands of the accursed enemy, for doubtless there is a restraint of prayer amongst us, on this momentous point: the venerable saint proceeds to say, “It appears indeed a most astonishing thing, that we who are so celebrated for our attachment to liberty, should ever think of countenancing Popery, because Popery and arbitrary power go hand in hand; Popery and Slavery as we used to express it at one time, are inseparable things. May the Lord lay this subject upon your hearts. We are speaking for those who are likely to be called to stand up in our places, when some of us are silent in the grave, and we know not how sudden and how soon it may come upon us, and it will be a hippy thing if we are led to pray much to the Lord, that he would screen our beloved country from so awful a convulsion and calamity.”

A very prominent feature in the ministry of Mr. Wilkinson was that of the personal work and ministry of the Lord Jesus, as he stood engaged in the eternal covenant of peace which was between them both: thus we have some very pointed remarks upon the same in his Sermon, “Jesus praying for his people,” from which we make the following extract,—“Now that, you may be encouraged to pray to the Lord for this very blessing which Christ here prays for, as well as for all other things needed by you, permit me to observe. Is not Jesus of Nazareth the great doer of all things for the Church of God? has not God committed all things into his hand? has he not put all things under his feet? has he not given the whole management of his covenant church and people—turned the whole management over to him? Is not this so? Certainly it is; and it is a sort of delightful consideration to realize the concerns of the church at large, and our own individual concerns, both with respect to body and soul—to see them all in the hands of the merciful, compassionate, almighty, and all powerful Jesus. Now this certainly is the case, and therefore we may consider this prayer in the text to be an enlargement upon one which we find in the preceding part of the chapter. At the beginning of the prayer he prays,—“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee, as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Now He is here praying,—“Holy Father, keep them,” whereas he acknowledges before that the Father has turned them over, if we may so speak, to his keeping, to his guardianship, yet he here prays the Father to keep them; naturally implying that the Father would be mindful of his prayer, and strengthen him in his mediatorial work, and enable him to carry on that work, which is so great and important. And therefore we draw this conclusion, that whenever you pray this prayer, and address it like Jesus to the eternal Father, you are virtually praying that he will be mindful of his engagement with His co-equal and co-eternal Son.

“And considering who the Son of God is, you are equally encouraged to pray this prayer immediately and directly to him, “O Thou eternal Son of God keep through Thine own name: Thou hast prayed to thine Eternal Father, that he would keep them, or that he would establish thee in that character, in which thou hast condescended to be placed for my present and eternal salvation, do thou keep me by thine own Almighty power to my salvation.”

Now there is not one that has tasted that the Lord is gracious that has not a peculiar delight in dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ, Oh! there is much blessedness in the thought that he was made man like ourselves, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” either original or actual, but “in all points tempted as we are.” He is not one “that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” In all his people’s affliction he was afflicted; for he was when in our nature in all points tempted, tried, and afflicted, as his people are, with all their various crosses, afflictions, fears, and apprehensions. And oh! how many of them there are; we should exhaust the remainder of our time, were we to attempt to enlarge upon the great variety of trials that press upon and sometimes almost overwhelm the hearts of the Lord’s own beloved people. They have all the powers of hell without them, and a wicked and ungodly world to tempt them, and then they have within an evil and corrupt nature, and they are such as know the plague of their own heart, and they are often apt to think “I shall surely one day be overpowered and destroyed, the enemy will come in like aflood and sweep me away; or my own corruptions within, my worst enemies of all, they will surely overcome me.” They are ready to say of their easily besetting sin—for perhaps there is not one here that does not feel himself more inclined to one particular evil than another, now Satan searches us, and finds out this easily besetting sin, and there he tempts us the most, so that we have often thought—is this a spot that can be a spot of God’s children, if the Lord loved me could it be thus with me.”

“Now I say, in all these fears and apprehensions you are encouraged to refer this immediately to the Eternal Father or you may go to his co-equal ana co-eternal Son, and recollect that though he knew not the corruption that is in your heart, yet he knew the utmost malice of Satan, and he knows your frame, and remembers that you are dust—to go to him who has such compassion for you, and to open your whole to him, and not only to go to him as an Intercessor to plead your cause, but to go to him as a mighty and an almighty Saviour, and one as willing to save as he is able. “Oh, then what encouragement to go to the great Jehovah in the ordinance of his own appointment, or to go to him who is commissioned by him—if we so speak—to save his people, and pour out your heart before him; O keep me, keep me, O thou great eternal Jehovah—we may thus address him—keep me by thy name, according to thy character and thy plans. Thy purposes, and promises, and engagements.” Nor can we forbear making another extract from this most blessed Sermon.

“But then there are two or three things more to be observed, and in the first place,” we see how it is that the sinners of mankind, get to glory. They are first chosen by God, they are then given into the hands of his co-equal Son who engages to do and suffer everthing necessary for their salvation, to bleed in their stead, take all their sins, and stand loaded with all their iniquities, “made sin,” it is a strong expression, the Apostle does not merely mean a sin offering, but sin in the abstract, “made sin for us,” they are, then effectually called by the Holy and Eternal Spirit, agreeably to his covenant engagement by which he is bound never to fail—never to forsake them till he has perfected the work of faith with power, and brought them safely home, thus it is the foundation is laid in grace, and grace carries on the work, and the headstone shall be brought forth with shoutings, (and surely you will join in those shoutings,) “Grace, grace, unto it!”

Nor did the venerable saint dwell with less pleasure and delight upon that most absorbing of all themes, the sovereignty of Jehovah, as set forth more particularly in his own good pleasure of having chosen to himself a people, to shew forth the riches of his grace, and for the personal honour and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, as their salvation, hence that warmth of feeling and ecstacy of soul, as expressed in the following—“And we may in the first place, observe that ‘Jehovah has a people that are his own.’ We say a people that are his own and known to him, known to him individually as such, and whose names he has written as such in the Book of Life, they are called in one place ‘the Church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven.’ Now these are his in a very peculiar sense, an endearing sense indeed. He styles them ‘his jewels,’ he says they are his treasure above all people that are in the whole world, they are the people upon whom he has set his heart, and fixed his affections from all eternity past, and that in a way different from the rest of the fallen race of Adam, he has loved them from eternity, and this for no other reason (he assigns no other) than because ‘so it seemed good in his sight.’”

And the solemnity of his appeals to the consciences of his hearers will never be forgotten while memory retains her hold with those who so long dwelt beneath its sound. Methinks the vibration of his voice, which hath now ceased crying in this valley of decision, echos through every avenue of the heart, while reminded of the pathos which marked the enjoyment he himself partook of where describing “the believer living in the sure hope of heaven.” And with what power of soul did he appeal to those who might be ignorant of this living. “Now,” says he, casting the desirous eye in all directions, if haply he might meet with one in whom the first awakenings of desire might be found, “it may be possible there are some present who have never seriously considered these subjects before. And we are bound to say to such—How good and gracious our master is! He is the mighty God, and he is a mighty Saviour; able and willing to save to the uttermost, and if you search his word from the beginning to end you will not find an example of any one that was rejected—no, if there is a real desire in your heart to look to Him, we are authorized to say, whoever has any conviction of sin whoever has any knowledge of the Saviour, or desire after Him is entirely indebted for it to Him. If there be any real desire in your heart you may rest assured He is your teacher, it is he that has instructed you, and His works are perfect. If he has begun a good work in you he will carry it on 

To the most casual observant who was found amongst the lovers of this good man it could be plainly seen, that the strong one was bowing down, while the keepers of the house did tremble from old age,—the golden corn from its state of ripeness inclined with pleasing anticipation towards the earth, fondly inviting the careful hand to gather it within the garner, still all around seemed to put off the day, endeavouring to bind with the green withs of nature’s brittle ties—the one whom covenant love had engaged the holy convoy to bear to Abraham’s bosom, and the continual breaches in his public ministrations during the early part of the year 1840, where too plainly the forerunners of that cessation which took place ere it had numbered its months, and on the first day of September the labours of this Father of our Metropolitan Churches closed with the morning Lecture, delivered in the Church of the united Parishes of St. Margeretts, Lothbury, and St Bartholomew, by Exchange, and on the following Lord’s day (the 6th,) at the other Church where he had for so long a season been the afternoon Lecturer. Yet upon neither occasion did he in the least make any allusion either to himself or his work, but dwelt most delightfully upon his favourite topic, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to day, and for ever,” and though bearing many indications of the prostration of strength—yet like the industrious bee who after a long day, is reminded by the shades of evening—the necessity of returning to its hive, yet shews reluctance to pass the opening flowers that lie in the way—so this aged and labourious servant of God, although reminded that the time of his departure was at hand, and feeling a desire to be with Christ, yet stops at every avenue as he proceeds on his way, and lifts up his voice in extolling the God of Jacob, who had so blessed him and fed him all his days—and well do the bard describe in admirable language, the closing scenes of this truly good man.

“Felt his frame decay,

By slow degrees his moment, waste away;

His happy mind composed to sweetest peace, 

Wish’d only for the day of his release.

Clear was his prospects of the vast reward

Of heavenly bliss, by sovereign grace prepared. 

The setting sun was cloudless bright and clear, 

Rejoicing that the happy goal was near; 

Celestial comforts all his powers sustain, 

Support his fainting heart, and ease his pain 

’Till he resigns the sad remains of breath, 

Infolded in the friendly arms of death.”

After ending his master’s work which had been allotted to him in the earthly sanctuary—upon his return home he in the exercise of faith made known to his beloved and endeared family, his full conviction that the time of his departure was at hand, nor was he in the least daunted or discouraged that it was appointed for him to pass so soon over Jordan; for from that period until the final one when his feet dipped in the flowing tide—every action spoke of his well grounded hope in the security of that rock—the perfection of whose works he had often set forth before others, and the blessedness of which he was now realizing in his own soul, the flickering light continued to burn dimly in the now disorganized lamp until the 14th of December, when the oil stayed and his disembodied Spirit became quickly associated with the myriads around the throne, where his full and eternal employment will be to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, the loss of such a prince could but be felt by the Israel of God—particularly at such a time when the insidious enemy was secretly working with his deep laid plots, which has since been proclaimed in open day-light—the gangrene of which have been affected from the mitred head, down to the fresh men of our Alma Mater, though from the heart was put forth the energetic expression “My father, my father,” yet it cannot be supposed any could be found so selfish as to entertain a wish to detain him one moment longer upon earth, but rather rejoice that the time was come when he should possess that mansion which had been long prepared, yet unoccupied until that moment, when the revolving wheel of time should throw into vast eternity the one ordained by everlasting love to be its occupant, whose passport thereto is fully set forth in the inexpressible language—“These all died in faith”

“There is an army, whose triumphant wars 

No monumental stone or lettered brass

Hath e’er recorded, and whose worthy names 

Stand not—inscribed with eulogising pen— 

Among earth’s great ones.

Yet think not, though denied the world’s applause. 

That dark oblivion shades their memories;

A destiny is theirs, far, far, beyond

The meagre honors sounding Fame bestows 

Upon her laurel’d sons! They boast an 

Ancient register in heaven’s high court,

So ancient that they know not at what time

It first existed—because there is no

Data to eternity—and claim’d co-heirship

With the King of Kings. To write their deeds,

The harping serephem assumes the scribe, 

And gives his angel energies to dwell

In strit minutes on their warfare here. 

Celestial archives keep the sacred scroll

On which no mortal gazes.

Hail! faithful company, ye now have gained 

What once ye saw in distance. Yours is now

A higher meed than proudest heroes boast; 

Their utmost point of honour is to stand

A statue in some earthly edifice;

But ye adorn the temple of the living God! 

They die, and others tell their victories; 

But ye in endles life can celebrate

Your own—yet not your own—for in your song

I hear, not unto us O Lord, but

Unto thee can triumphs, honor, glory, 

Praise belong; for ’twas thy strength in us 

That waged the fight, and by thine arm

We vanquished.” 

The almost life of seclusion in which the Rev. Watts Wilkinson so much delighted, seem to preclude what is sought after by those who are the general readers of Biography; yet while the more affluent of his admirers are put in possession of a volume written by one of his sons, we are desirous of doing all within our power of gathering up some of those precious fragments which may be found acceptable to the humbler class of readers, who, though the poor of this world, are rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. And though we cannot be expected to have the same advantage with one of his own family, yet we hope to be enabled to set forth some of those striking instances which were displayed of the grace that was found in him, and which, though he be dead, yet speaketh in those truly spiritual sermons now first presented to the public, and in which the truly good man has given those views of the nature and design of our Church that must confound the whole host of semi papists, who now shew themselves under the ensign of those men who have made such rapid strides towards Rome. Very plainly does it appear that the unostentatious Lecturer was not of that school who would say a confederacy with those who would substitute the form of religion for its power, and impose upon the too credulous a fallacious system which must end in their own confusion. No, he shrunk not from the high office as “Legatee of the skies,” and desired to be found wise in the winning of souls to his divine master, and to this the testimony of many witnesses could be given, for speaking the same things, to him was not grevious, but to them it was safe.

It is hardly possible to conceive that a life so lengthened as the venerable subject of these memoirs, should be so deficient of those materials which in general form the component parts of that branch of Literature; but the unostentatious disposition which marked the whole of his deportment at once furnish us with the true cause why we so lack materials. Nor is it in the least needful that in tracing the Lords goodness towards his own servants, that we should run into endless geneologies, nor is it at all material concerning the flesh of whom or from whom they might have proceeded. Their ancestors are found amongst those whose record is on high, and who are “Born not of Blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12, and who having their names enrolled in the Lambs Book of Life, exclusively dwell amongst their own people and are not found reckoned amongst the nations.

However, a few brief reminiscences of the things which befell the faithful steward in his journey through the wilderness, may not be unacceptable to many of that class of readers for whom more particularly this little volume of fragments is intended. Too often it is to be regretted that an unmeaning contention is carried on, similar to those various cities that contending without the means of determining the birth of one man; and although we must acknowledge that it belongs unto our Established Church to own him as one within her pale; yet we consider that the Rev. Watts Wilkinson was not so tenacious of her unsatisfying honours as some would have us to believe, though we do not by this mean to insinuate that he only attached himself unto her, like to many, for filthy lucre.

It is well understood that the ancestors of the subject of these memoirs were beyond dispute of the nonconformist school, and that he himself in early life was not ashamed to be in all respects considered of that body. The family were originally of the county of Northumberland, having long resided in the parish of Horsley, near to the well known spot of Alnwick; but from one of those movements which continually take place in the growing into life of the different branches of a family, Mr. Robert Wilkinson, the father of Watts, is settled in London, and becomes a member of the church then under the pastoral care of the truly learned Dr. Guyse, whose well known paraphrase on the New Testament stands as an orthodox work with many to the present day. And from this connection, in all probability, arose the very prominent one of his union with Miss Rebecca Watts, a lady in every way calculated to ensure him that domestic peace and happiness which he afterwards enjoyed to a great extent. The effect of this union was the birth of several children, and one of them the late Rev. Watts Wilkinson, who had the maiden name of his mother assigned him, and did not, as by some erroneously considered, receive the name from the immortal poet. Before he had attained his twenty-first year, we find him entered as a commoner at Worcester College, Oxford, where he was the friend and companion of that excellent youth, Mr. John Mayor, who afterwards held, with so much credit to himself, and satisfaction to his parishioners, the vicarage of Shawbury, in Shropshire, and where his zealous endeavours to promote the Redeemer’s kingdom were united with the beloved De Courcey, both of whom have long entered into rest.

Having qualified himself, and paid the customary duties to Alma Mater, he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and quitted the University to enter more fully upon the life to which he afterward gave so good an evidence he had not been called in vain. His title to holy orders was obtained from an appointment to the curacy of Little Horwood, Bucks, and was by the eminent Dr. Robert Lowth, Bishop of Lincoln, ordained a Deacon, in the Chapel Royal of St. James, on Sunday, the 28th of February, 1779; and in the afternoon of that day commenced his public ministry, by preaching in the church of the united parishes of Saint Anne, Blackfriars, and Saint Andrews, by the Wardrobe. The valuable friend of his youth, the Rev. H. Foster, who was then the Afternoon Lecturer, with much Christian affection having, in conjunction with the ever to be remembered Rector, kindly offered to him the use of the pulpit. The incessant revolvings of unsatisfied death hath, with a few solitary exceptions, swept away all who rejoiced in that day when from this hallowed place “sounded out the word of God.” And who is it that feels the least concern for our Zion but must regret the sad reverse of things now evident in one of the most favoured of our city sanctuaries? How different the things now spoken to what was once; and how is creature doings and creature merits substituted in the room of God’s Christ. Well might the eyes run down with water, so very evident is it that high-church views do not unite with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

First curacies are not in general of a permanent nature, as in most cases they are only entered upon to facilitate ordination; and in this case it was so with our youthful preacher, who, though he gained much upon the affections of the few in that retired village, continued only to discharge the duties of the curacy from Lady-day to Michaelmas in the same year, his predeliction for and the connecting links of his own interest tending to draw him more towards the metropolis. Nor can it be supposed that the good thing which he had in his heart towards the Lord God of Israel could be overlooked by those noble men who served at our altars, and who in this instance were willing to instruct him more fully in those things pertaining unto the kingdom; and to this connection must be mainly attributed what in others would have been considered an act of boldness in one so young standing a contest for a city Lectureship, which contest ended in his favour by a large majority thus placing him in the situation as Afternoon Lecturer of the united parishes of St. Mary, Aldermary, and St. Thomas, the Apostle, London, and from which he never removed until he closed his labour, as before stated, upon this appointment it was necessary he should receive Priest’s Order, to which he was admitted by letters dismissory from Dr. Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Dr. Thomas Thurlow, Bishop of Lincoln, who admitted him to the priesthood in the early part of the following year. It had long been understood in certain channels that the Rev. Michel Marlow, the respected chaplain of Askes Hospital, Hoxton, (an excellent charity, exclusively in the hands of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers) was desirous of retiring; and it was thought desirable if possible to secure the said chaplaincy for Mr. Wilkinson, who was at this time affianced to the daughter of Mr. Marlow. And what from the combined interest of friends, together with the growing popularity of the young Lecturer, every difficulty was got over, and in the month of Feb. 1780, he was elected chaplain to the said hospital. It may be acceptable to say here that this hospital was founded by the munificence of—Aske, Esq. citizen and haberdasher, for the maintenance of twenty old men, and for twenty boys—the latter are received at the age of seven years, and clothed, boarded, and educated, until the age of fourteen, in reading, writing, arithmetic, algebra, mensuration, mathematics, and ‘Latin, geography, history, and chronology, (but nothing is done for them after that age) Mr. Wilkinson’s duties were only those of chaplain, at present the chaplain has the scholastic duties, an usher being under him.

In this Chaplaincy Mr. Wilkinson continued until the year 1825, when from peculiar circumstances he resigned it, and was succeeded by the Rev. Charles Davies, who only retained it about four years, when the present zealous and indefatigable Gentleman, the Rev. J. L. Turner was elected. The services at the Hospital, together with the Lectureship, required that Mr. W. should give full proof of his ministry, and was no small task for a comparatively young man. Yet did he so engage in his dear master’s work, that it soon became evident that he was a Scribe well instructed—and both the Church in the City and the Chapel at the Hospital, were continually filled with not only attentive, but with many living and spiritual hearers—of whom it will be said when he writeth up the people, “This man was born there.” Nothing daunted by additional labour, we find him in or about the year 1798, offering himself as a candidate for one of the Lectureships, of which there were then several at the Church of St. Antholin, Watling-street, and to which he was accordingly chosen without opposition, and which must have been very gratifying unto him, as from this same Pulpit it was that he had himself heard the word of life, in this Church he continued to preach on the Wednesday evenings, and only resigned it upon being presented by the Court of Assistants of the Haberdashers Company—with the Tuesday morning Lectureship of St. Bartholomew, by the Exchange, which Lectureship is in their sole gift, and it is said that from the consideration that he had laboured long, and had received only a small remuneration, they, with a praiseworthy feeling unsolicited, rewarded in this manner their faithful Chaplain—though at the first of Mr. Wilkinson’s obtaining this Lectureship, the income hardly exceeded a fourth part of what it is now—the improvement of the property which was left to support it, having now obtained for it the all astounding and comprehensive name of the Golden Lectureship.

To those who have never witnessed the scene of this good man’s labour on the Tuesday morning, it can hardly be able to describe it, with words situated in the very heart of the City, amidst the din occasioned by the assembly of some of all nations, once stood the ancient Church of St. Bartholomew, and here at that hour when all the powers of the Merchantman might be said to have reached the Meridian, and to have looked upon the moving mass, you would have thought it impossible that any attention could be given to anything beyond the all engrossing one of business, even while the inviting bells have been drowned amidst the noise beneath them, even here it was that, by withdrawing but a few steps, the all imposing scene would be presented of a crowded Church, in which seats were not attainable—but where all were desirous of catching every accent that dropped from the lips of this Man of God. Nor was this a rare occurrence, but one as constant as the day returned, and might be said to have increased rather than decrease, as the aged Saint drew nearer his dying day, and when the labours of others might be said to close. Its appearance testified that his was assisted so much by the Spirit of God, that he brought forth fruit in old age, and for many years he was enabled to move on in that “even tenour of his way” as to have had but few, if any real interruptions in the work upon which his soul was so much engaged, and it is well to know that those labours were by no means in vain, many living can testify, and others who have crossed the flood, were divinely favoured to walk by those still waters. Four times a week was this indefatigable servant of the Lord found in the work of the Sanctuary—and his lengthened services in his master’s cause, led him in more than one instance to yield up the place to the dilapidating hand of time, thus in the year 1823, it was agreed to take down and rebuild the Chapel and Hospital, upon which occasion the last Sermon was preached in it, on the last Sunday in the year from those words of the Apostle Peter, “The end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober and watch unto the end,” 1 Pet. 4:7. For the space of two years we find him watching over this part of his charge, and preaching in a large private house in Hoxton Square, to which the Establishment had been temporally removed, but upon the completion of the new building, from the advanced period of life to which he had now reached, and other minor considerations connected with the Hospital, he was prevailed upon to resign the Chaplaincy which he had so ably fitted for the long space of forty-six years; this was in the year 1825, from which time he continued to preach with very few exceptions—the Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning Lectures, nor do we find that he was ever in the habit of preaching much in other places, though we believe he lived in the greatest tie of affection with all good men, and especially with those of the Ministry who were Ministers of the Spirit, and not in the letter, thus while some men are continually going about—not so with him, his own flock was dear unto him, and he loved to be found at all times amongst them, nor could it be expected that he would be much sought after for that generation which came in with the present century—for he was truly of the school of the last, and loved and valued those truths, and those only which have been cast aside by the modern systems of the day, and this he well knew, for when once waited upon by the Publishers of the new edition of the works of Dr. Tobias Crisp to solicit his name as a subscriber, he very feelingly observed amongst other things, “I should think, Sir, that you find but few who know the worth or value of Crisp’s works,” and how true it is, and every day more verified—that the golden ore of former days is cast aside for the mere tinsel of modern times, and how much has this increased since the dear Saint’s departure? In the awful and infectious poison which hath so deceptively been working in our churches, and which will in the end be the means of establishing again all the errors of that cursed thing Popery, of which the dear man so vehemently spoke in the last Sermon preached in the church of St. Bartholomew, on the 28th day of April, 1840, which was occasioned by the said Church being included with other buildings to be taken down to make room for the improvement required by the erection of the New Royal Exchange—a Church more memorable from its containing the ashes of the Venerable Father and Reformer Coverdale, who assisted Tyndale and Rogers in the Translations of the Holy Scriptures, which were published in 1532, and 1537 being the first Version of the whole Bible that was printed in the English language; he was Rector of St. Magnus, London Bridge, and upon the demolition of the Church, his remains were found at a considerable depth below the surface, near to the Communion Table, and were removed and re-interred in the Church of St. Magnus, where a handsome monument is erected to his memory, bearing the following inscription:

To The Memory Of Miles Coverdale, Who Convinced That The Pure Word Ought To Be The Sole Rule Of Our Faith, And Guide Of Our Practice, Labored Earnestly For Its Distribution, And With The View Of Affording The Means of Reading And Having In Their Own Tongue The Wonderful Works Of God, Not Only To His Own Countrymen, But To The Nations That Sit In Darkness, And To Every Creature Wheresover The English Language Might Be Spoken, He Spent Many Years Of His Life In Preparing A Translation Of The Scriptures.

On The 4th Of October, MDXXXII, The Bible Was Published Under His Direction. 

The Parishioners Of St. Magnus The Martyr, Desirous Of Acknowledging The Mercy Of God, And Calling To Mind That Miles Coverdale Was One Rector Of Their Parish, Erected This Monument To His Memory, A.D. MDCCCXXXVII.

How beautiful are the feet of

Those that preach the Gospel o

Peace and bring glad tidings of

Good things. 

Isa. LII. Ch. VII. Ver. 

Near this Tablet in a Vault made for the purpose, Are deposited the bones of Mile Coverdale, Formerly Bishop of Exeter and Rector of the Parish of St Magnus the Martyr, in the year of our Lord, 1564. His remains were interred in the first instance in the Chancel of the Church of St Bartholomew Exchange, But on the occasion of that Church being taken down, They were brought here on the 4th October, 1840, In compliance with the wishes, and at the request of the Rector,

The Rev. Thomas Leigh, A.M. And Parishioners of St Magnus, the Martyr.

Thus by a remarkable coincidence, two out of the three places in which his labours were so abundant passed away by the devastating hand of time before his eyes—by the act obtained for the improvements which required the removal of St. Bartholomew’s Church, the Parish was united with that of St. Margaret’s, Lothbury, and with it of course was connected the Tuesday morning Lecture, in which Church Mr. Wilkinson closed his labours as have been before observed, and we do well to “mark the perfect man, and to behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”

That the attraction towards Mr. Wilkinson was not from either natural wisdom or eloquence need not be stated, for in simplicity and godly sincerity he endeavoured to commend his Master and not himself, and felt no greater honour than to be considered the servant of the Church for the sake of Jesus. Yet his audience were no doubt composed at times of various individuals, who from the nature of their business might have been brought to the spot and from some motive at the time in action might have been induced to step in, of such motive we suppose must have been the following which induced the observations to he made, and having met with them in so unexpected a way, where it could be least expected we cannot forbear. Transcribing the letter from the Memoirs of Sir Wm. Kinghton, vol. ii. page 441:

“I am just returned from hearing old Mr. Wilkinson in the city. I think he must be about 80; quite clear, and distinct. A beautiful old chapel, thronged to fulness. I could only just get in, and stand by the door. I was not in time for the text: I think it was on regeneration. The first words I heard from him, were—‘Remember that the day of death is the day of judgment:’ he then said it had been truly stated, that there were three joyous periods in the history of man: the first was, the day of conversion, when the finger of God, by his Holy Spirit, writes on the heart of man, the comfortable assurance ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee by the redeeming blood of thy Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ Under such circumstances, the next joyous day, is the day of our death, when all the miseries our mortal flesh is heir to, terminate. And then comes the third period of our joy: namely, our ascension into Heaven. This gentleman has the most shocking countenance we ever saw; what a beautiful picture might be made of him, and of the marvelous variety of strange care-worn faces (for it is close to the Exchange), by which his pulpit is surrounded.” 

Thus after the lengthened period of nearly sixty-two years in the service of his Divine and heavenly Master, he is called to lay aside the armour, and to be clothed with the robes of the conqueror—with a presentitive, (or rather shall we call it a sweet inclination) that he should be required to appear no more in the earthly courts, he expressed his conviction upon his return home that he should preach no more, at the same time declaring that it in no way distressed him, for it would imply ingratitude in him to repine at being thrown aside when he had been so long kept in a work upon which his heart was so much set, and which were continued unto him even to old age, to be spent in his master’s service.”

Though released from the duties of the Sanctuary, yet it was his Lord’s will that there should be a special season of love visits from himself to his dear Servant, thus he was called to the gradual breaking up of the house of this Tabernacle by the space of fourteen weeks during which time he did by his private testimony—throughout all the days of increasing weakness confirm and establish his hope and dependance upon him whom he had believed, and while remembering all the way the Lord had brought him in the wilderness could with gratitude give him thanks for the past, and at the same time place confidence in him, for present need and joyfully anticipate what blessedness awaited him in the future vision that would soon open before his unbeclouded eyes.

As might have been expected, the closing scenes of this aged saint differed in no way from what had marked the whole course of his pilgrimage; it was not that of extatic joy, but like the calm drawing in of a summer evening, he gently glided away from the ruffled ocean on which he had so long sailed, and under the skilfulness of a never failing pilot, he reached the haven of eternal rest. From the great relaxation of his long worn frame, but little conversation was carried on between him and those of his dear family who were in constant attendance upon him, as it evidently appeared that the least exertion was attendant with much pain and trouble; yet what did pass, proved most sweetly how his soul was stayed and supported on that foundation upon which his hopes had been so long placed; and he, to a great degree, realized the truth of the Prophet’s language, “Thou wilt keep him, in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” His familiarity with death seemed to increase as he drew near the time of his departure, and each day seemed to draw him into a closer and more endeared enjoyment of him, “whose he was and whom he served in the gospel of his Son.” Nothing could be further from him than an ostentatious spirit, and he lived daily under the sense that what he was it was alone by the grace of God; therefore he gloried as one who had received, and whom grace made to differ: and yet it must not be considered, that the subject of these memoirs was in any way perfect, nor in possession of what thousands awfully deceive themselves with—a delusive and deceptive idea of a progressive sanctification, and there could be instances recorded, in which, like the Holy Master Romaine, (as he used to be called,) he shewed forth the unsubdued nature and disposition which were born with him; nor do we even find, although not given at any time to enter upon Theological disputations—that in any of his ministrations he was at all tainted with this view—he might be truly said to have abided by the whole of those views held and maintained by those men amongst whom he first grounded his staff, and while permitted to outlive the whole of them—he never turned aside to the Arminianism of Scott, nor signed a truce like the eccentric Rowland Hill, with that party, against whom, in his early days, his hand was lifted up. What were his views when first buckling on the Armour, had undergone no change when called to put it off. Thus all his public ministrations may be summed up in this—A full belief in the covenant engagements of Jehovah on behalf of the Church, was the leading topic of all his discourses, and his delight was to dwell upon the several and distinct acts of God the Father, in the everlasting act of choosing the Church and giving her to Christ for the purpose of Redemption; the great work of the Lord Jesus in becoming her Head and Husband, discharging all law charges that were against her, and finally bringing her off more than conqueror over Satan, Sin, Death, and Hell; and the one efficient work of God the Holy Ghost, in the regenerating and continual renewing of the whole mystical body; and on these soul-satisfying topics was he found to dwell with a warmth and zeal, which fully proved how far his heart was engaged in the sacred and hallowed work.

The closing scene was now hastening on, and there was a holy solemnity pervading the whole circumstances of the aged Saint, by a gentle decay of the outward man, attendant with an evident renewing of the inward one—thus while each successive pin dropped from its hold the gathering folds of the Tabernacle, were brought into that compass which required it should for a season be laid aside within the perfumed chambers of the grave, how lovely the sight to see a Saint undressed for bed, and truly may it be said this was the case with him—who was led to experience in himself what he had so recently penned for others, in those outlines of the two Sermons which were the last labours of his very extended life. Nor can we refrain from giving a short extract from one wherein it seems that in the daily converse he held upon these matters, he was anticipating a speedy realization for of the last enemy as he is too generally termed, he thus speaks, “And even death itself (can you believe this) will indeed be a time of refreshing. It has been often said that the day of death is the day of judgment; so of refreshing, &c. for the moment after death will be the moment of your entering into Paradise.” What refreshing when you find yourself in the arms of holy Angels—when introduced to the general assembly and church of the first born—to the Spirit of just men made perfect.”

“O! how true literally, are the words of the Lord Jesus to every believer,” Behold I come quickly, O! that you may be enabled to reply with the Church, come Lord Jesus what is this, but O! that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down and fulfil thine own promise. “I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also”—whenever and in whatever way the Lord comes, it will be to receive his people to himself, for he has the same heart in heaven as he had on earth.”

“Is he precious unto you, then he will come to take you to himself—to fashion your vile body, that it may be like unto his.” Whether you live you shall live unto the Lord, or whether you die you shall die unto the Lord, for whether living or dying ye are the Lord’s.”

It was under a continuance of such solid and firm a hope as this, that the shades of time withdrew to give place to the bright morning of eternity, now about to open to his long­ ing sight, and the increasing sound of the chariot wheels—as they drew near gave the intimation that this Master in Israel was about to be taken from us—and this event, thus to be anticipated took place a few minutes after 11 o’clock of Monday, the 14th of December, 1840, at his residence, in Hoxton Square, and very soon was it made known to the many who had so long been favoured to enjoy him as the Minister, and who were led to expect no other than his dismission, rejoicing that his absence from them would beyond all doubt be his immediate presence with the Lord. 

Mr. Wilkinson had always possessed a peculiar regard for that most interesting of Macphelahs “Bunhill fields” in all probability from the earliest impressions his mind had felt, when depositing the dust of his ancestors—and he had long taken possession for himself, by the interment of some of his family in their infancy, and where he had but a short time before departed the mortal part of her who he had loved as the wife of his youth, and the companion of his old age—and hither on the morning of the 26th of the same month in which he died was he also committed to the grave, to wait the resurrection of the just, when that which was then here sown in weakness shall be raised in power. Many were gathered together to testify their affection to his Memory— though the funeral of itself was exclusively a private one, nor could any be said to sorrow as those without hope—for, they well knew he slept in Jesus, and when he shall be brought then shall they also appear. At a short distance from the tomb of Dr. Watts, and in the numerical section of the ground (14) is now to be seen—the family Head­ stone, with this modest and unassuming Inscription, which is at once characteristic of the dear saint when living.

The Rev. Watts Wilkinson, A. B.

Lecturer Of The United Parishes Of St. Mary, Alderman, And St. Thomas The Apostle, Bow-Lane; 

Thursday Morning Lectures At St. Bartholomew The Exchange; 

And Late Chaplain To Askes Hospital; 

Died December 14, 1840,

In The 86th Year Of His Age, And In The 62nd Of His Ministry.

“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.”

Soon after his decease, it was proposed by some friends to raise a memorial to his memory, for which purpose subscriptions were solicited, and it is decided by the committee, to erect it in the Parish Church of St. Margaret, Lothbury, and St. Bartholomew the Exchange.

List Of Chaplains

Rev. Thomas Wright (1695-1697)

Rev. John Pridie (1697-1700)

Rev. Charles Lovell (1700-1712)

Rev. Henry Vaughan (1712-1724)

Rev. Arthur Bedford (1724-1745)

Rev. Roger Shackleton (1745-1757)

Rev. Michael Marlow (1757-1780)

Rev. Watts Wilkinson (1780-1825)

Rev. Charles Davis (1826-1830)

Rev. John Laming Turner (1831-Current)


Watts Wilkinson (1755-1840) was a High-Calvinist Anglican preacher. He is best known as the “Golden Lecturer” at St. Bartholomew's, by the Royal Exchange, where, on Tuesday mornings, crowds would gather including a number of notable men such as Joseph Irons and the Earl of Roden.